Huda Al Matroushi made history in the UAE by becoming Sharjah's first female Emirati car workshop owner, a field that has long been dominated by men in the Arab world.
As gender issues become ever-more pressing around the world, women like Al Matroushi send out a strong message that anything is possible.
Cars have been a hobby for Matroushi since childhood. She turned that into a profession and now owns and manages a car repair shop in Sharjah.
His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, recently called Al Matroushi to congratulate her on this unique feat.
In an interview with Gulf News after the call, Al Matroushi said her happiness knew no bounds when the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince said he was proud of people like her.
Today, global automotive lubricants brand Castrol is joining hands with the 36-year-old Emirati to celebrate her status as a national icon. Here are excerpts from an exclusive interview:
Being a successful businesswoman at such a young age and managing an automotive garage independently, what powerful message you have for other women?
If I as a woman can take this profession, any other woman can do it equally well. All it requires is a growth mindset and a will to succeed.
What are the reactions like when you tell people that you are a car mechanic and have a workshop of your own?
People are usually surprised when I tell them I am a mechanic. Because they are not so used to women knowing more about cars than men do.
What is one thing you know now about women and wish you had known earlier in your career?
At the start of my career, I had no idea how difficult it will be to manage an automotive garage as a woman. Some people felt insecure while giving me their car for servicing, and this shocked me. Nevertheless, their minds changed after they got their cars back in an amazing condition.
What encouraged you to open an automobile workshop?
This is not a job for me. It’s my passion. I have had this passion since a very young age. I enjoy fixing things, especially cars. I just took that passion of mine and turned it into a business opportunity.
What are the problems faced by working women in your field?
When it comes to cars, there is a misconception that only men understand cars. In Europe, we see many women working in garages. In this part of the world, this concept is not fully accepted. However, seeing a lot of women exploring this field is quite beautiful. If I can be an inspiration for the women in Middle East, I will consider myself blessed.
You have worked with multiple world-class lubricant engine oil brands. What were your learning?
With my experience so far, Castrol lubricants are world-class, if not the very best. Castrol lubricants are known globally for technology innovation and marketing leadership. Castrol’s role in enhancing the skill sets of mechanics in Middle East are also well documented.
How have these different engine oil brands inspired you and what is your message for them?
I will give one purpose-led example. Castrol lubricants are market leaders. The Middle East is not an exception. In this pandemic, when every other brand went into hiding, Castrol was the first lubricant brand to take care of the mechanics community by distributing free hand sanitisers and disinfecting the workshops.
Castrol lubricants walk the talk and have given immense support to me both as a mechanic and as a workshop owner. My mechanics are trained on Castrol lubricants and I am grateful for their commitment to learning and development of the mechanic community.
What makes you believe that nothing can stop you from doing the right things for the community?
Everyone is equal and each person has his or her own special talent. No gender is superior to the other. As a community, we need to work and learn from each other. In my profession as a mechanic, it is equally important for me to spread the awareness of using the right engine oil for the car as recommended by original equipment manufacturers. Castrol lubricants has taught my team and me the right values and behaviours. It is my turn now to contribute to my mechanics and workshops community.
We know you have a passion for fixing cars. Do you also have a passion for driving?
Of course, driving is my passion and this is one of the reasons I look at cars differently. I know what is right for the car and a brand like Castrol helps me on continuous learning with latest updates from the automotive industry.
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 or 6 years?
I would like my fellow women in the Middle East to join me and be a part of this successful industry. I would like more workshops being managed by women and be skilful entrepreneurs.
What is your focus area right now?
My focus right now is to continue learning about cars every day. Be an inspiration to other women who are willing to go that extra mile and be successful in managing car garages.
What would you tell the next generation? What would you like them to know?
The current generation is highly tech-savvy. So, my advice to them is instead of being hooked on to it, make the best use of it. Do not be afraid of experimenting and finding innovative ways to make it more beneficial to the community.